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(79) Rossa

Russia struck back at the Ukraine’s infrastructure as vengeance for the attack on the Crimea bridge. The problem with this strategy, per Kahn’s On Thermonuclear War, is that modern industrial economies are quite resilient to attack—and, indeed, many services were quickly restored. The Ukrainian attack on the Crimea bridge was brilliant because it was highly symbolic, demoralised the Russians, and hardly killed anyone. The Russian counterstrike, by contrast, will fail to cut Ukrainian infrastructure sufficiently to make a difference but will instead provide endless propaganda opportunities wherein little girls with pigtails will look into camera phones and weep, “Vladimir Putin killed my hamster, little Boris couldn’t stand the cold—he couldn’t make it through the winter.” Cue Western headlines: “BEAST Putin killed my hamster”.

Basically, the Russians can make the Ukrainians a bit miserable and uncomfortable by, for example, destroying their thermal power plants, but they have not hit back symbolically and psychologically. Instead, we instantly saw inspiring videos of patriotic tots taking a break from their nursery painting (of Boris the hamster) to sing the Ukrainian national anthem while they sheltered in the Kiev subway; we saw old women covered in blood; we saw the Russians comically fail to blow up a very “they/them” pedestrian-cyclist bridge. Psychologically, the Russians look like incompetent monsters—the counter-attack hurt Russia more than the Ukraine.

The Ukrainians are anti-fragile, being feminine—they gain from disorder, every bloody video of a Ukrainian babushka is an advance on the military front. What should the Russians have done? Been more selective. They should go for Zelensky; if they killed Zelensky, the Ukrainian cause would be severely retarded—there is someone in the background more important than him they should get too. Nobody actually likes Zelensky (not even the Ukrainians)—he is very annoying, and everyone would be secretly glad if he were killed. It would be difficult, but if the Russians put all their resources into it then it could be done—they are unlikely to do it.


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